Extracts

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Islam

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Islam" (search under Outer Life/Religions, Ways)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 255"
The merely natural man confirms himself against divine providence when he sees the Mohammedan religion accepted by so many empires and kingdoms. The fact that this form of religion is accepted by more kingdoms than the Christian religion may be a stumbling block to those who give thought to divine providence and at the same time believe that no one can be saved unless he has been born a Christian, thus where the Word [Bible] is, by which the Lord is known. That form of religion is no stumbling block, however, to those who believe that all things are of divine providence. These ask in what the providence consists and find it is in this, that Mohammedanism acknowledges the Lord as Son of God, the wisest of men and a very great prophet who came into the world to teach men; most Mohammedans consider him to be greater than Mohammed.
 That form of religion was called forth in the divine providence to destroy the idolatries of many nations. To make this fully known we will pursue some order; first, something on the origin of idolatries. Previously to that form of religion the worship of idols was general in the world. This was because the churches before the Lord's advent were all representative churches. The Israelitish church was of this character. In it the tabernacle, Aaron's garments, the sacrifices, all things of the temple in Jerusalem, the statutes also, were representative. Moreover, the ancients had a knowledge of correspondences, which is the knowledge of representations — it was the chief knowledge of their wise men. This knowledge was cultivated especially in Egypt and was the origin of Egyptian hieroglyphics. By that knowledge the ancients knew what animals of every kind signified and what trees of every kind signified, as they did what mountains, hills, rivers, and fountains signified, as well as sun, moon, and stars. As all their worship was representative, consisting of sheer correspondences, they worshipped on mountains and hills and in groves and gardens, regarded fountains as sacred, and in adoration of God faced the rising sun. Furthermore, they made graven images of horses, oxen, calves, and lambs, and of birds, fish, and serpents, and placed them in their houses and elsewhere, arranged according to the spiritual things of the church to which they corresponded or which they represented. They placed similar objects in their temples, too, to put them in mind of the holy things they signified.
 Later, when the knowledge of correspondences had been lost, their posterity began to worship the graven images themselves, as holy in themselves, not knowing that their forefathers had seen no holiness in them, but only that they represented holy things by correspondences and thus signified them. So arose the idolatries which filled the whole world, Africa and Europe as well as Asia with its adjacent islands. In order that all these idolatries might be uprooted, of the Lord’s divine providence it was brought about that a new religion, adapted to the genius of Orientals, should start up, in which there would be something from each Testament of the Word, and which would teach that the Lord had come into the world and was a very great prophet, wisest of all, and Son of God. This was done through Mohammed, from whom the religion is called the Mohammedan religion.
 Of the Lord's divine providence this religion was raised up and, as we said, adapted to the genius of Orientals, in order that it might destroy the idolatries of so many peoples and give them some knowledge of the Lord before they passed into the spiritual world.
 This religion would not have been accepted by so many kingdoms or had the power to uproot idolatries, had it not suited and met the ideas and thinking of them all. It did not acknowledge the Lord as God of heaven and earth, for the Orientals acknowledged God the creator of the universe, but could not comprehend that he came into the world and assumed human nature, quite as Christians do not comprehend this, who therefore separate his divine from his humanity in their thinking and place his divine near the Father in heaven and his humanity they know not where.
 Hence it may be seen that the Mohammedan religion arose under the Lord's divine providence and that all adherents of it who acknowledge the Lord as Son of God and live according to the precepts of the Decalogue, which they also have, shunning evils as sins, come into a heaven called the Mohammedan heaven. This heaven, like others, is divided into three, the highest, middle, and lowest. Those who acknowledge the Lord to be one with the Father and thus the one God are in the highest heaven; in the next heaven are those who renounce a plurality of wives and live with one; and in the lowest are those who are being initiated.